by Brian DeChesare Comments (93)

What If You Don’t Get a Return Offer From Your Investment Banking Summer Internship?

no return offer investment banking summer internship

So it wasn’t exactly a great year for return offers from summer internships.

At some banks, the conversion rate was under 50%.

At others, the rate was a little higher, but it was still far below the 80-90% you might see in “good years.”

So if you didn’t get a return offer, are you screwed?

Sort of.

It’s not the end of the world, but failing to get a return offer from an internship can make it a lot harder to start a career in finance.

And it’s incredibly frustrating because your return offer, or lack thereof, often relates more to office politics or deal activity than your performance.

But if you handle it correctly, “no return offer” just means you might have to delay your real career a bit – not give up on it entirely.

Here’s what you can do to get back on track ASAP and win a full-time role:

Why Does a Return Offer Matter So Much?

An “internship” is an 8-week or 10-week-long interview.

It gives bankers far more data than they could ever collect in normal interviews, assessment centers, or case studies, and it lets them make more informed decisions.

So all investment banks prefer to hire full-time Analysts and Associates exclusively from their summer intern classes – which means that you need an internship for the best chance of winning a full-time offer.

However, not all banks and groups can do this.

Some interns perform poorly; some groups don’t hire the right number of people; and some interns decide against banking and decline their return offers.

So certain groups recruit for full-time roles by “poaching” interns from other banks or by conducting real full-time interviews.

But in markets with poor or declining deal activity, banks rarely go far outside their summer intern classes.

Why “Network A Lot and Win an Offer Elsewhere” is Not the Real Answer

A long time ago, I used to recommend networking around and winning an offer elsewhere if you don’t get a return offer from your internship.

But if you didn’t get a return offer because of market conditions, few other banks will be hiring for full-time roles.

Also, while some banks use accelerated recruiting to lure in summer interns from other places, you typically find out about your offer status too late to participate in that process.

You might get lucky and find a group that has full-time hiring needs even after internships are over, but it’s not terribly likely.

If you want to do this, you have a better chance of finding open roles at regional/satellite offices (anything outside of New York in the U.S.) and also at smaller banks (anything outside the bulge brackets; even elite boutiques).

That’s because summer intern retention tends to be worse in those places, so if you’ve already know people there, by all means reach out and ask.

My Suggested Plan of Attack

…But like I said, your chances aren’t great in a market with declining deal activity, so here’s what I recommend instead.

First off, if you do get a full-time return offer, accept it immediately.

There’s almost no point in “shopping around” your offer right as internships are ending, especially when deal activity and hiring are down.

If you do not get a return offer, or you’re “on hold,” or you don’t know your status yet, you need to take an honest look at your situation and figure out why.

For example, did your group hire almost no one because deal activity fell dramatically?

Did you screw up by making loud and politically incorrect comments in the beginning?

Did poor accounting or Excel skills sink your chances?

Did other interns have more deal experience?

Once you know which category you fall into, you can prepare for the next steps:

  1. Figuring out where you’ll recruit next; and
  2. Figuring out how you’ll explain why you didn’t get a return offer.

Step 1: Select from Your Three Main Options: Go Smaller, Go Outside Investment Banking, or Delay Graduation and Try Again

If your inquiries about full-time openings elsewhere don’t result in any hits, you’re left with three main strategies:

  1. Go Smaller – By “smaller,” I mean regional boutiques. Specifically, pounding the pavement with cold calls and cold emails until you win an offer there.
  2. Go Outside Investment Banking – Aim for roles in a Big 4 valuation group or at an independent valuation firm. Potentially, you could also aim for buy-side roles if you’ve had previous buy-side internship experience.
  3. Delay Graduation, or do a Master’s Program, and Go for Summer Internships All Over Again – This scenario might be one of the few cases where it makes sense to delay your graduation.

The best option depends on why you didn’t receive the return offer.

EXAMPLE: If you performed well and have great references, but the group wasn’t hiring or hired only 1 / 20 interns because of poor market conditions, then options #1 and #2 might be better.

You’re taking a big risk if you delay your graduation because the market might get even worse next year.

On the other hand, if market conditions were fine and the bank hired a lot of interns, but something outside your control sunk your chances, then option #3 would make more sense.

Option #1 – cold calling and cold emailing hundreds of tiny firms – can work, but there are also some big drawbacks.

For one thing, the process is repetitive and soul-crushing.

Also, it’s very random and almost completely a numbers game.

Finally, these offers at very small firms sometimes “don’t work out”: the firm collapses, deal flow dries up, they force you out, and so on.

My Recommendation: In most cases, you’re better off going outside of pure IB roles (option #2).

Yes, there are many cold calling and cold emailing success stories on the site, but it’s far less painful to work in a related field for a year or two and then make a lateral move.

Examples: Valuation advisory to investment banking, and regional audit to business valuation to investment banking.

It’s 100% because of timing: people quit randomly all the time, and when that happens, banks need to fill those roles quickly.

By contrast, the end of summer internships might be the worst time to win offers at other firms because so many interns are trying to move around.

Step 2: Explain Why You Did Not Get a Return Offer

While interviews will be similar this time around, you need to prepare for one new question that will almost always come up:

“Did you get a return offer? / Why didn’t you get a return offer?”

There are only four good ways of answering it:

1) Say That You Don’t Know Whether or Not You’ve Received a Return Offer or That You’re On Hold

This is a legitimate answer because a lot of banks do like putting interns on hold or not giving definitive answers right away.

Of course, the follow-up question will then become: “So why didn’t you do well enough to get a return offer? Did any other interns receive return offers?”

2) Say the Group Sharply Reduced Its Hiring, or Didn’t Hire Anyone at All, and Offer References to Prove Yourself

This response will be your most likely answer to that follow-up question about how many interns received full-time offers.

But then you’ll face another follow-up question: “So the group didn’t hire anyone at all?”

If you can legitimately say, “Correct, they gave out no full-time offers” or “The group was shutting down” or “The firm was shutting down,” then those responses should end this line of questioning.

But if the group did, in fact, hire a few people, then you should NOT lie about it because you could be caught very easily.

You could respond with: “I believe a few interns did receive offers, but the percentage receiving offers was very low due to reduced deal activity.”

The interviewer will then follow up and ask why you did not get an offer.

You could say, “I’m not sure. I performed well, and I have references from several senior bankers I worked with if you’d like to speak with them. I think there were many qualified interns, and the group wanted people with more deal experience from past internships.”

If that is true, and you have real senior banker references, then that’s a legitimate answer.

If not, then there are only two responses left:

3) Say You Didn’t Fit in with the Culture, or That Banking Was Not for You

This one works best if you apply for roles outside of investment banking, such as Big 4 TAS or valuation ones.

You can say that you liked the work and performed well, but didn’t fit in with the culture of banking, and now you want to do similar work elsewhere.

Given the massive cultural differences between Big 4 firms and investment banks, they should understand.

This explanation doesn’t work if you apply for “high finance” roles, like private equity, so don’t even bother with it there.

And it really doesn’t work if you apply to other banks because most banks have very similar cultures.

I’ve seen interviewees say, “I didn’t fit in with the culture” and then get grilled on exactly what that means for 10-15 minutes.

So unless you have an exceptionally good reason (e.g., the bank you’re interviewing with has mostly non-traditional bankers), you should not use this response.

Instead, you might just have to tell them something close to the truth:

4) Tell Them Something Closer to the Truth

So if you’ve made it this far, and they’re not buying any of your other excuses, you might just admit that you screwed up in the beginning.

You realized your mistakes and fixed them, but it wasn’t enough.

For example, you could say something like: “Sure. In the first week or two, I made the mistake of asking senior bankers questions that should have gone to analysts. I fixed that quickly once I realized my mistake, but it wasn’t enough, and the senior bankers had a negative impression of me from the start.”

This isn’t the ideal response, but if nothing else above works, admitting your mistakes (partially) is still better than saying, “I don’t know. Really, I don’t know.”

Choose Your Own Adventure: So What Should You Say?

Ideally, you won’t get into an extended back-and-forth discussion over why you didn’t get a return offer.

It’s better to answer it simply and cleanly and avoid follow-up questions altogether.

To do this, you need to match your story to the types of roles you’re applying to.

If you’re focusing on non-IB opportunities, the “I didn’t fit in with the culture and decided against banking” story is the best one.

If you’re applying to other banks or you’re delaying graduation to apply to summer internships again, the “My group wasn’t hiring (much)” story is best (if it is true).

If it’s easy to disprove that claim, then some version of the truth might be best.

No Return Offer: Time to Panic?

The world won’t end if you fail to get a return offer, but yes, your life will be more difficult until you win a role somewhere else.

You need to figure out immediately what your recruiting strategy will be and how you’ll explain why you didn’t get a return offer.

You’ll still be at a disadvantage, but if you play your cards right, you can position yourself for another shot at banking in the future.

And amazingly, some version of the truth might help you get there.


Did you not receive a return offer from your internship?

Are you wondering what to do next or how to spin your story?

Are you confused about the best option?

Leave a comment below, and we’ll respond with our thoughts.

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Ethan Formet

    Hey Brian, thanks for the helpful post. I just accepted an offer at Blackstone for SA2024, but I’m very worried about the return offer rate as it’s historically low. How should I adjust my mentality to not think about unable to convert when I’m in the internship?

  2. Hi Brian- I’m about to start my equity research summer internship at a quite large asset manager within two weeks and I’m the only one intern on the research team this year in my office. And I have asked a previous intern about the return rate and he told me that it’s not a tradition at this firm… But they do provide thorough modeling training and I am paid as a FT analyst. Is that common for equity research at buy side firms? If they don’t want FT analysts out of undergrad, why would they bother to train an intern for just 10 weeks?

    1. Yes, a lot of firms do things like that, but it’s not that common at the large asset managers. It does seem a bit strange to go through all that effort if they don’t intend to award full-time offers. All you can really do is perform the best you can, assume you won’t get an offer, and start networking midway through the internship for other roles (at other AMs or even in ER at banks).

      Smaller firms often do internships without any FT offer awards because they just need help with deals, clients, or other projects. But it’s definitely a bit strange to see this at large firms.

  3. Hey Brian, I am going into my senior year at a semi target and did not get a return offer at a big four IBD advisory. I do have multiple recommendations from the bank, including a few managing directors. Any important considerations for off cycle recruiting here to possibly secure a full-time analyst in May 2023? I am just beginning my recruiting today. Gpa is ~3.7 and have strong technicals and ability to explain summer deals, etc.

    1. The biggest issue is that the hiring market is terrible because deal activity is down by a huge percentage over the past year. So I would not bet too heavily on winning a full-time IB offer because you’ll need to find a firm or office that had terrible interns and therefore needs more full-time hires (maybe something like energy/natural resources/power boutique firms or groups?). But I would strongly recommend having a backup option beyond IB in the current environment.

  4. Hi Brian, I am less than two weeks away from my internship at one of the big 4 accounting firms in their data analytics group and I was told that due to firm reorganization none of the interns in my group will get return offers by the end of the summer, but they will consider us as business needs improve. So they basically put us on hold.
    I will be recruiting for quant finance and I am thinking about updating my contacts. Do you think it is wise to include the fact that I didn’t get a return, since it is not due to my performance? Or I should never mention it unless they ask. Also, I am thinking about reaching out to other departments in my firm as big 4 firm are huge and I still have access to the internal communication platform. Do you think I should mention that I didn’t get an offer from my group, so I have a valid reason for why I reach out?

    1. I would never mention the fact that you didn’t get a return offer unless they ask. If they do ask, say it was company-wide policy and that no interns in the group received return offers.

      No, don’t mention this when reaching out to other groups, either. Just say that you’re interested in their area and possibly working there in the future and wanted to learn more.

  5. What are the conversion rates for ER like in recent years? Has it been getting better? Heard some firms esp BBs have been more actively recruiting and growing headcount

    1. Don’t know, sorry. The problem is that ER internships tend to be informal and don’t run on structured timelines like IB ones, so no one really tracks this information. It is true that some groups have been hiring in ER, but MiFID II is definitely making an impact as well… so many groups are shrinking while others may be growing.

  6. Anonymous

    Hi Brian,
    I’m currently an IBD SA at a top BB in the APAC region in a product group (not M&A or LevFin). I’m going into my final year at a top target in Europe. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve realised that the region and product group are not for me and I’d prefer to work in London instead (in coverage/M&A/LevFin).

    1. Should I apply for FT or SA roles at other banks for 2022? I have an IBD internship but it’s not in coverage/M&A/LevFin or in the EMEA region, so I don’t know if FT is possible…

    2. Should I try to aim for internal mobility to FT in Europe?
    2a. If so, what’s the best way of going about it? I don’t think there’s a formal process, so I would likely have to chat with my manager/staffer (which would definitely hurt my chances of receiving a return offer). I could try talking to HR, but there’s a chance it might get back to my team/manager which would not be ideal. Perhaps I could try talking with analysts in LDN who’ve made similar internal transitions? (i.e. SA in a region outside LDN, FT in LDN) The same risk applies though, in terms of it getting back to my team/manager.

    1. Your best bet is to accept a full-time offer out of this internship and then try to transfer to Europe once you are working full-time and have proven yourself. It will be a combination of networking and contacting other teams.

      I don’t think it’s a great idea to turn down this offer and apply for FT roles because you’re taking a big chance by doing that, as it’s normally quite difficult to win FT roles outside of internship conversions.

      The second best option would be to stay in school for another year and apply for summer internships in EMEA in more relevant groups.

      1. Anonymous

        I’m not too keen on the idea of accepting the APAC full-time offer for two reasons: (1) the cultural/language barriers; (2) the nature of my team’s work, much of which isn’t very analytical. I also think it would be quite hard to both move to the EMEA region and change teams if I was already in the firm for 2+ years.

        What do you think about the internal mobility point I mentioned in my earlier post (2a.)? I’ve seen a number of Linkedin profiles of people making similar transitions from my BB, i.e. summer in a different office -> FT EMEA/LDN.

        1. I mean, you could try it. My impression is that it’s normally difficult to switch banks/offices at the end of an internship before you begin full-time. But you can start by reaching out to the analysts in the other offices and see what they say. It’s also hard to tell because the success of this type of move depends on whether banks under-hired or over-hired, and right now, no one appears to know what’s going on with deal activity.

  7. Hi Brian,

    Been following your forum for two years and you certainly helped me win a BB summer offer.

    Unfortunately though, I did not receive a return offer this summer. I did quite well and several junior bankers were willing to vouch for me; however, I was disadvantaged since the beginning because of the tech and WFH issues. My firm sort of forgot about me and took almost two weeks to set up my work email & everything else, while other interns were having normal remote internships. As a result, I missed the entire training, could not contact anyone except HR in the first two weeks, and only started real work on Friday in week 2; you know the internships were shortened to 5-6 weeks.. One MD actually told me that it was just unfortunate for me because I had less time and opportunity to interact with them and missed a lot of things.

    What was worse was that my IT was not set up properly and there had been constant issues with emails, Skype and authorization. I am very sure I was the only affected intern thanks to the negligence of some support function departments (never outright complained though, maybe I should have..) and you get the idea…

    Even though some analysts said they would love to have me back next year, I didn’t receive return offer. I now consider delaying graduation and applying for summer again (still some spots open in my region). I may just tell future employers the truth about no return offer. Would it make sense to do so and would you have any advice?

    Very grateful for your help.

    1. Just to clarify, I am a finance major at a non-target. Thanks!

    2. In this case, yes, it makes sense to delay graduation and apply again next year since it will be almost impossible to win a full-time role without an internship conversion in the current environment. And yes, it might make sense to tell the truth about not receiving a full-time return offer because of all the IT issues and not being able to start the internship with everyone else.

      1. Thank you so much Brian for your advice.

        Would it be advisable to ever mention that I did not win a return offer in summer application cover letter? If so, should I also mention the reasons above why I didn’t get return?

        Additionally, should I also explain why I would apply for summer again rather than full-time roles? Of course the main reason is I believe there will be extremely limited full-time spots given the circumstances, but maybe I am able to mention that my course structure was changed due to COVID and that I couldn’t graduate on time. Or maybe I can say that this summer was virtual so I didn’t get real sense of banking? (Probably not so good reason?)

        Thanks again for tour generous help.

        1. No, don’t mention the lack of a return offer in a cover letter. When they ask about it in interviews, just be prepared with your explanation.

          You don’t have to explain why you’re applying for summer roles again. If it comes up in interviews, just say that your entire schedule changed because of the pandemic, and you decided to stay in school longer to get the full experience.

      2. Just not sure how to explain the motivation part for cover letter and interview, or should I ever say something like “I’ve done summer internship at MS and I want to apply for summer role at GS”.. Thanks again.

        1. Just say you’ve previously completed internships at firms X and Y and extended your term in school, so you are applying for summer internships. You don’t really need to give that much motivation because cover letters aren’t that important for these roles, and everyone says the same things in them.

          1. Your help is very much appreciated Brian.

            Would be grateful if you could shed some light on one extra question. For the resume walkthrough during summer internship interviews, would you recommend using your IB to Different IB structure? What if I would also try to apply for PE internships?

            Thanks again for your help.

          2. Yes. For PE internships, just say that you realized you want to be on the investing side starting in your first full-time role.

      3. Really appreciate your help here Brian.

        I contacted my mentor and found out that the reason of no return offer was that I didn’t have enough senior bankers who were willing to vouch for me. It was because seniors had one-on-one meetings with every interns (except me of course) in the first two weeks to establish mentorship, but no one knew that I was absent due to the tech issues. After the first two weeks, everyone had some sort of relationship already and when I contacted seniors, they were really reluctant to talk to me (because they thought I was just lazy in the first two weeks). I then tried to work harder than everyone else to win juniors’ approval and I did, but it seems like approval from seniors was more important in my case.

        While I can answer the “why no return offer” question by taking about tech issues and the lack of opportunity to interact with seniors, would this explanation convey a sense of unfairness and look like I am blaming the bank for unfair treatment? Or would it be better if I add something like “it was because I didn’t realize the importance of gaining approval from seniors” and focus on that I didn’t get to interact with them much but did gain support from juniors?

        Thanks for your advice!

        1. I would just say that you didn’t put in enough effort into getting to know the senior bankers in the beginning rather than blaming tech issues.

  8. Hey Brian,
    Thanks for the great blog and many useful insights into IB career path. I have a question about internships. I didn’t get an IB internship, doing bachelor degree in a respected European business school, but even though I’m afraid it’s not a target school. But I got other options to do my internship in big4 deal advisory, m&a, division. Now my question is, I got into modeling and valuation division with KPMG(regional m&a leader) and m&a division with pwc(not really specified what tasks I’d cover). What do you think I should choose? It’s 6 month internship program.
    All the best

    1. I’m not sure I understand your question. Your 3 options are for Big 4 Deal Advisory/M&A, KPMG/Regional M&A, and PwC/M&A? If that’s the case, they seem about the same to me because they’re all Big 4 M&A teams. I don’t think there’s a difference unless they cover different regions/countries and therefore different types of deals.

  9. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your article.

    I interned at a BB as an Associate Intern (MBA). I have a question on transitioning across to PE or similar buy-side opportunities when an offer was not made. I felt my decision was highly political and the team were not very good at valuing MBA hires – i.e. they didn’t have a track history.

    This took place in London, and I would love to get your thoughts on using the 10 week experience to move to PE for example.



    1. I think it would be extremely difficult to move to a PE firm if you interned at a large bank and did not receive a return offer. Citing “politics” will make them skeptical of your explanation because they’ve heard that so many times before. You might be able to win an offer at a smaller firm if you want to go that route, but I don’t think it’s a great path if you want to work at mid-sized-to-larger firms because they usually want bankers with transaction experience.

      Another option is to specialize and go for something like real estate PE firms because there are relatively few people who know that industry well and are prepared enough to interview well for it.

  10. Hi Brian,

    I’m a first-year student at a semi-target university in Europe.

    For the summer I didn’t get an IB internship however, I did manage to land a private banking internship.
    Assuming I will have quite a lot of free time left during summer what would be the wisest way to spend it (with the end goal of landing a job in IB)?

    I was already planning on doing quite a bit of networking, but I still feel like I will have quite a bit of free time.

    I really want to learn financial modeling so I was thinking about doing the Breaking Into Wallstreet course.
    Are there other things I can/should do, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about investment banking, so would it be useful to read certain books?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Network, learn the technical skills required in IB, and learn Excel and PowerPoint quite well. Books are not that useful because so much of the information about what bankers do is online – on this site, forums, and even news sites. Also, work on your story and start thinking about how to answer fit questions.

  11. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for the article; that really helped. I’m a first year student that did a spring week at a bulge bracket but didn’t get a summer internship offer (they conducted interviews on the last day of the program; whoever passed the interviews immediately received an offer). I asked if they’d fast track me, but they said they’re not sure yet and I might have to redo the whole process. Summer internships are competitive and not receiving one has me tense as I’m quite keen on working in this field. I’ve been trying to find out more about my options, but most students I’ve spoken to said that having completed a spring week won’t work in my favour when I apply to other banks (since I did get rejected) and not much info is available online regarding this (your article was the only relevant one I could find online). Any suggestions on what steps I can take and how I can perhaps secure a summer internship? How can I answer the question “why didn’t you secure a summer internship?”. A number of interns were selected, I received very positive feedback on my performance throughout the program and I interacted with a number of employees but my interview didn’t go as well compared to the other candidates. Thanks.

    1. All you can do is network at this stage. Do a search for some of the networking/cold-emailing/LinkedIn-related articles on this site to find more. Not receiving a return offer from a spring week won’t necessarily destroy your chances; just tell them you performed poorly in the final interview, despite doing well in the internship, and decisions were made solely on that single interview at the end.

  12. Hi, so I did a summer internship in a top IB, I didn’t have an offer right away, one day during the last semester before my graduation I got a call from the bank giving me an offer for a part time position in the IBD, obviously I accepted, but then they call me again saying that the head of my division (I never worked with him, because they are located in another city) didn’t want a part time analyst, so now I’m interviewing with other banks and they always ask me if I did get an offer or why I didn’t stay In that bank. I tell this full story, but it seems that they don’t believe it 100%, what can I say instead? Or do you have a recommendation?

    The senior bankers who I worked with right before I left told me to stay in contact and if I needed a recommendation I could ask for one.

    1. I would just tell them that you did receive a return offer, but then the bank changed its hiring plans and decided to reduce headcount, so your offer was taken away. If they have doubts about the story, offer to refer them to the senior bankers you worked with.

  13. TrustTheProcess


    Thanks for the article! I can’t express how useful BIWS is as it helps me to land multiple dream jobs. I have a question though. I recently got an intern offer to work at the Advisory group at BlackRock in the coming summer. It is not my first choice and I’m sure that I’ll like to switch group (to Investments) in fulltime. Here comes my dilemma – when should I start to network with ppl in other groups? How should I approach the groups that I’m interested in without risking my fulltime offer? I understand it might be a bit early to ask, but I will still like to know your thoughts on it.


  14. Hi Brian,

    This summer I interned at McKinsey but didn’t get a return offer. I made some mistakes at the beginning of the internship but I genuinely felt I didn’t fit with the culture and I wanted something else. I didn’t enjoy working with people there and that was the main reason for me not getting the offer. Now I’m starting to interview for IB in BBs in London, and they have been consistently asking me why I didn’t get an offer. I’ve been telling them I didn’t fit into the culture, but I’d like to know if you think there’s a better way to answer. Also, the other 6 interns got offers, so I’ve just been saying that I’m not sure how many people got offers.

    1. I don’t think that’s a good answer. It’s better to say that you decided against consulting a few weeks into it, so you mutually agreed that you would not return. Make it sound like it was mostly your decision not to go back.

  15. Struggling

    Hi Brian –

    I interned at GS in NY in IBD on the product group (financing) side and did not get an offer due to headcount issues, was told by my manager I did a great job and even have references. However, I go to a non target in the mid west and have been struggling in the past week in terms of networking and getting interviews. As of today I have nothing coming down the pipeline in banking – what do you think is the best strategy in the next few weeks?

    Thank you very much for your advice

    1. Aim for smaller banks first if you have not already done so… even a middle-market or boutique bank is better than doing something outside of IB. If you’ve already done that or nothing there has worked out, either, think about valuation/TS groups at Big 4 firms or independent valuation firms.

  16. Hi Brian,

    I interned at the same investment bank for two summers running in IBD. The first time I was too inexperienced and this time I think the networking aspect wasn’t there, even though the quality of work was.

    Would it be impossible to get a job now in the buy-side – HF or PE?

    1. Not necessarily, but you’ll need a really good answer to why you didn’t get a return offer twice. You might stand a higher chance if you go to some role outside of IB first and then move to a buy-side role, e.g. something like equity research to hedge funds.

  17. Hi Brian,

    I am currently interning at a BB for its Trade Finance/MO position. I am expecting no offer because I didn’t enjoy the work and don’t see myself doing it, and it showed through. I wonder any advice you could give for the recruiting this year. I am planning on delaying graduation but also looking into FT at the same time.

    1. Well… what do you want to do? Something trading-related? Something more in corporate finance or deals? You need to decide on that first. Delaying graduation sometimes makes sense, but you need specific goals first.

  18. Hi Brian,
    I am a final year undergraduate student studying engineering (finishing my course in 3 months). I completed a summer internship within Sales and Trading at Citi last summer, but didn’t get a return offer (London Office). This summer I have an internship lined up at Morgan Stanley (also Sales and Trading, London), and hope to convert to a full time offer. My question is, if I fail to convert my internship this summer, what do you think would be the best course of action?

    At the moment I am considering doing an Masters to delay gradation to September 2018, but most MSc courses in the UK are a full 12 months, therefore, I wouldn’t be able to do a third internship (although at that point maybe I should start looking at something other than sales and trading ).

    My other option is to apply to full time positions immediately after completing the summer internship this year, although it is very hard to get a full-time offer in S&T unless you have interned at that specif firm. What do you think are the chances of getting a full-time at smaller trading houses/ asset management firms?

    In the case where I do a Masters, what courses do you recommend for S&T? I have been advised that Finance / Computational Finance / Business Data Analytics.

    1. I would say your best option is to apply to S&T roles at smaller firms… they’re easier to get, and you already have 2 internships at top banks, so a 3rd one won’t help that much. I’m not sure how a Master’s degree would help, either, but if you do it, yes, the areas you mentioned are solid.

  19. Hi Brian,

    I am a junior who took a summer ER offer from a bank, only to hear from informal sources that they typically don’t give return offers (although there are rare exceptions). What would your plan of attack be in this situation?

    1. Start networking for roles at other banks even before you arrive on the job, and consider roles like asset management as well, since the recruiting process is sometimes a bit less structured there.

  20. Jocelyn B.


    The conversion rate for IB interns at BB was pretty low for the summer of 2016 given the market and quite a few banks overhiring (about 30% conversion rate from what I’ve heard). Do you think the same trend will continue into summer 2017? Presumably, if the market is still bad but the recruiters learned from last summer and didn’t over hire this time, the rate will look slightly better?

    Thanks a lot.

    1. It comes down to deal activity, which I can’t predict. Conversion rates may be a bit better, but given all the uncertainty with regulations, political systems, the possible break-up of the EU, etc., I don’t think they will be significantly better.

  21. Hi, I interned at a BB last summer and although I put in a lot of effort it turns out I didn’t do what was expected and didn’t receive very positive feedback during my two rotations. I have an offer from another bank for this summer but now I am worried when they do background checks and I’ll have to provide references (I think). I didn’t keep in contact with any of the the senior bankers as I thought it was a bit uncomfortable since I didn’t get the sense that they liked me. How do I go about it if I need a reference from them given that I don’t think they would write a very good reference…

    1. Maybe get someone more junior at the other bank to provide a reference? Sometimes they’re more willing to say positive things than senior bankers are.

  22. Hi Brian,

    Just a quick question. I have an internship coming up this summer and will be hoping to get a return offer at the end of it. The only issue is, between accepting the internship and starting it, i have failed a subject at college. i will still graduate on time and all will be fine, but will this be a hindrance to my recruitment for a full time offer? Do firms ask for transcripts before giving return offers? or if i perform well in the internship and get a full time offer i am basically set?


    1. I wouldn’t worry about it, normally background checks are only conducted before you start the internship.

  23. Hi Brian,

    I am a senior from a target school and interned at an EB this past summer but didn’t receive a return offer for political reasons. I was really surprised when I didn’t get a return offer because I only got positive comments in my mid-review and as a result, I didn’t recruit elsewhere. I realized there aren’t many full-time positions in banks and have been trying out for consulting but haven’t had much luck through the recruiting cycle and now am terrified of what I’m going to do for the future. Do you have any advice of what I should do from this point? Ideally, I would like to stay in banking, but I am okay with something that’s comparable.

    I am also willing to delay graduation if that’s the best route, but I am not sure what I would say as my reason for that because I feel like they would ask me why I’m graduating late. I would have to take next semester off and would have to explain why I would be taking time off in the future; what would be the best approach for that?

    Thank you.

    1. That is a tough one. If you’ve already reached out to all the banks you can, your best option is to apply to something relevant that’s also easier to get into, such as a Big 4 firm or an independent valuation firm, and then move back into banking from there.

      I would not recommend delaying graduation in this case because you’re taking a big risk (What if the market gets worse next year?) and it would be tough to explain in this scenario.

  24. Hi Brian,
    I interned at a BB think MS/GS/JPM/BAML in London but did not get an offer.
    I also did an internship with MBB and was thinking of leaving my BB internship completely off my CV when applying to another summer internship in banking.

    I think I would get easier technical questions and still get invited to
    Also I am not confident about my BB internship experience, since I did not do any modelling or “real” work during the internship – mostly only formatting ppt slides and research.

    Do you think that would be fine?

    Many Thanks!

    1. If you have the MBB experience, yes, you could potentially leave off the IB internship and still have a decent shot at winning another banking internship. However, your chances would still be better with an IB internship on your resume, even if you didn’t do much real work.

  25. Hi,

    I am a junior investment banker and completed recently a 9-month internship at a boutique investment bank.

    Unfortunately, I did not get a full-time offer after the end of the internship. I live in London, but I am a foreigner and I have to fully support myself. This means I must find a way to get a source of income a soon as possible.

    Due to my background in sales (3 years, I am 26), it is relatively easy to find a sales role. However, I am concerned that by doing that I might reduce the chances of securing a position in investment banking in the future.

    I am particularly interested in capital markets and equities as I trade stocks with my retail trading account.

    Should I get a different type of role? How should I position myself to secure a position at an investment bank?

    1. Maybe aim for smaller private equity firms and try to win a role there (sales skills matter more because of the sourcing aspect). I wouldn’t recommend taking a sales role because, as you said, it will reduce your chances of finding another finance role.

      Another option might be to find something trading-related, but I think you would stand a higher chance with a small PE/VC firm at this point:

      1. Thanks a lot Brian, will get right into it.

  26. Hi,

    I am a junior and this past summer I interned at a GS/JPM product group did not receive a return offer. My end goal was always to pursue a coverage role somewhere, and so I always planned on going through recruiting again if I wasnt allowed to change groups. How should I spin this during interviews when asked I got a return offer?

    1. I would just say you didn’t get a return offer, but you pretty much knew from the start that you wanted to move to another group anyway since you realized early on it didn’t fit your goals. If the bank didn’t give out many return offers, it would also help to quote that in the beginning.

  27. Hi Brian,

    I’m a senior at a target school that spent last summer at a mid-tier industry group at GS/MS. Over the summer I had received essentially only positive feedback and was given no indication that I would have any potential reason to not receive and offer, so I didn’t not bother recruiting elsewhere. However, I was told late in August my offer decision was delayed as I was being put on hold due to market conditions. Most boutiques had already finished their process by this time, and it was unclear if I would end up with an offer off hold even though I did receive positive indications despite the circumstances. However, now 3 weeks later I’ve been told that my chances are very unlikely and everywhere I’ve seemed to reach out is already done recruiting. Given the summer experience, my resume seems to be good enough to get interviews, but there just aren’t any positions to interview for. Any suggestions for my next move? Ideally I would like to work in banking, but I’m considering the buy-side and consulting now under the circumstances.

    1. I would say small buy-side firms are your best bet at this point, and possibly Big 4 firms in their TAS/TS or internal investment banking groups. Possibly also independent valuation firms.

  28. Hi Brian,

    I wanted to ask if this front office-back office dynamic is still the case today i.e. is it still tough to go from the back to the front office?

    I also wanted to ask about a finance positions – the ones titled “finance analyst” – which are probably in a finance department of a firm/bank/finance company. Would these be considered as front or back office roles?


    1. Sorry, a point I forgot to add:

      What you’ve said in the article, does this apply more so to M&A than it does to other departments like Sales and Trading or Equity Research? Are those departments affected in the same way too?
      The reason I ask is because I reckon other people would try to break into those departments if M&A becomes too tough due to the decline of deal activity.

      1. ??? Not sure I understand your question. Everything is in decline at large banks, though. And there have always been fewer positions in S&T and ER.

    2. Yes, it is still tough to go from the back office to the front office, at least if you have a full-time role in the back office.

      “Finance Analyst” roles depend on what you actually do. If it’s something like corporate finance (budgeting, forecasting, etc.), technically they are back office, but they’re viewed more like front-office roles and sometimes people can move around.

      1. The finance analyst roles are closer to more accounting roles.

        With those roles is it more relevant roles, then worst come to worst jump into a target masters programme if I’m in a back office role for more than 3-5 years?

        1. Sorry about that, I realised how poorly worded the second part was!

          What I meant was if you find yourself in a scenario where:
          – you land an offer in analyst roles which seem to have a more back office component (like being more accounting than corporate finance)
          – or get a role which isn’t remotely relevant to what you’d do in the front office, or has no progression a FO role

          And you say in those sort of roles for more than 3-5 years, then is the only real shot you have doing a masters programme somewhere top-tier to rebrand yourself?

          1. Yes, pretty much, but at that point it would probably have to be an MBA instead.

          2. Thank you for the reply.

            Though would a MSc or MiF programme suffice in place of an MBA in this scenario if, say, it is more financially feasible to fund them than an MBA after that time period?

            Especially if there’s a debate about how a non target undergraduate helps with getting a target MBA.

          3. Unlikely. Also, as I mentioned in my previous email, you don’t have to leave hundreds of comments all over this site on different articles – collect all your questions and submit them at once and we can answer them.

            (All comments here record your address so we can see if it’s the same person or not…)

  29. Brian, I have a slightly better situation this summer – I interned at a boutique MM bank with a pretty good brand name as a summer associate this summer. Although I did not end up getting a return offer in the office I interned in (which is their HQ), they liked my work enough to refer me to their New York office for a Superday in early September. I was surprised about how low their return offer rate this year (25%), as they were talking about an expanding strategy. But in any event, the reality seems to be that I need to start the whole full-time networking/application process all over again. As I realized that now is probably a little bit late in the game , your advice would be very valuable in my situation. Here are two questions I’m particularly interested in for the process:

    1). I have been upgrading my resume, emailing/calling my old contacts and seeking advice from people in the office I interned (as I’m assuming they might have some intel about the New York office recruiting process). Is there anything else I could do here to increase my winning chance?

    2). My hypothesis is that my work during the summer was mostly associated with a smaller industry group in their HQ office, and this group is twice as big (in terms of # of MDs) in their New York office. They seem to have an overcapacity issue, but they apparently liked me enough to refer me to other offices. Since I do not have an official source to confirm this hypothesis, when I’m telling the story of whether I get a return offer from them and why, would it be too presumptuous to spin my story with this hypothesis? If so, how would you recommend to spin my story?

    I really appreciate your help, Brian. The contents you have at M&I are so useful, so thank you for doing all of these for us!

    1. 1) Not really. If it’s the last minute, the only other thing you could do would be to get a really strong recommendation from someone in the office you interned at, but it sounds like you already have that.

      2) I’m not sure I would say that upfront. Maybe you can give that explanation if they press you on your story and repeatedly ask why you didn’t get the offer. But otherwise, it’s best to just go with, “They didn’t have many spots and didn’t give out many offers in my office this summer” as your first explanation.

  30. Rainbow CHANG

    Thanks for the article! Very helpful and calm me down a bit coz i just received the reject letter today. I interned at the BB and still want to intern/work for BB. I indeed made several mistakes and other interns are just perfect. So i could not think of a good reason to justify myself. Do you have recommendations?

    1. I would just say the bank didn’t hire many people (if you can somehow spin that as being true) and you also made a few mistakes in the beginning that cost you the offer. You fixed them, but you couldn’t overcome that poor initial impression.

  31. Brian hey,

    What do you think people in 8 masters which take around 8-9 months should do(such as LBS mim program)?

    Is banking nearly impossible if you don’t have much pre-experience and you cannot be a penultime student to get summer internships?

    1. That is a tough one. Banking is really tough without some kind of experience before or during the program. Your best bet would be to get a school-year, off-cycle internship, and then turn that into an off-cycle offer at a bank.

      I don’t think it’s impossible to get in if you’re something other than a penultimate student, but it’s harder and takes more effort if you go with off-cycle internships instead.

  32. Hello,

    I was fortunate enough to receive a full-time offer from a BB this summer, and I have a question about the issue of “shopping around”. You said that I should accept the offer immediately since there is no point in shopping around, but here is the issue.

    I had 1 month to accept the offer, and two weeks have already passed. The only reason I did not accept the offer yet is because I have a friend who is a staffer at another bb (with slightly more prestige) and he told me to wait since there might be a spot left for me to interview for.

    My only concern is if I end up not doing the interview (or do the interview and not get it), I am worried of how the bb that I worked for this summer will view me for accepting the offer so late. It appears that I will have to accept the offer almost towards the end of the deadline. I really liked my summer experience so I do not want them to think that I shopped around and then accepted the offer hesitantly.

    Hope you can share your insight, thank you.

    1. Personally, I think you’re taking a big risk for very little gain. A bulge bracket to another bulge bracket just isn’t a big enough gain to justify that risk.

      Sure, maybe one is more prestigious or has a slightly better reputation, but is it worth the risk of losing your return offer?

      I would say no.

      Your bank won’t necessarily rescind your offer, but they may start getting suspicious if you wait too long to accept it.

      So unless you *really* want the other bank for some reason, and you’re very certain about being able to interview there, I’d probably just accept the return offer.

      If you were going from a middle-market or boutique to a bulge bracket, maybe this would make more sense.

  33. Anonymous

    I didn’t get an offer at my BB internship last summer. At that time I used your 2009 advice to network like a ninja. I found that that did help – and also that almost all BB and boutique banks did in fact have some sort of hiring process ongoing. This may have mainly been due to the fact that I got a move on right away, and banks may have also been waiting to hear if the offers they did give out got accepted.

    I agree with Brian’s advice for the most part, but my 2 cents added would be to not discount networking like a ninja immediately (i.e. in August the day you find out your offer). Especially if you made good connections during internship recruiting – reach out to them, bankers told me there are spots available because they were unsure whether offers they gave out were going to fill.

    I ended up having 4 interviews at BBs, got an offer, accepted, and now I’m in FT training.

    Brian, your site is the best! Has helped me a lot during recruiting.

    Best of luck to all.

    1. Thanks for sharing that. Like I said, networking around for full-time roles can certainly work sometimes, but it depends heavily on market conditions.

      My impression this year (2016) is that there aren’t too many full-time roles, so it may not be a great use of time to network aggressively. The market has changed a lot in just the past 1-2 years, which is why it might have been a bit easier last year or the year before.

  34. Hi, I got an internship this summer as a Finance Intern for Johnson & Johnson. I did not get a return offer and I was really taken by surprise by that because I thought I was doing beyond what was required. I really don’t know why I was not given an offer when I even received an award and lots of accolades for helping out on another departments project. The only thing I can think of that might have doomed me is that during an interview at the end of my internship before decisions where made, I asked if I could work in treasury (closest thing to investment banking) as opposed to consumer products (the department I was in). The interviewer commented on how my face lit up when we started talking about investment banking. So its possible that the interviewer realized I was definitely more interested in IB than Corporate Finance and that’s why I was past over but I really don’t know as they did not tell me the reason nor did I ask.
    What do you think I should do? I graduate this December 2016 and I can’t afford to go and do a Masters at this time.

    1. That is a strange one. My guess is that you’re probably correct, that the interviewer realized you were more interested in IB than in corporate finance. You could also reach out to them again and ask definitively what happened.

      If you’re going for corporate finance roles, you can just apply to other companies and make up a story about how you liked CF, but wanted to work in a different industry, or at a smaller company. Only investment banking works on a hyper-accelerated recruiting timeline.

      So if your ultimate goal is IB, I would recommend applying to other corporate finance roles or something related, like Big 4/valuation roles, and then thinking about making a lateral move into banking.

      If you can’t delay graduation or do a Master’s, those are your best options for getting into IB in the long term.

  35. It’s better to apply to a different division in this case.

  36. The main options would be to reach out to other bankers you’ve networked with, aim for smaller firms, or go for roles outside of IB, such as Big 4/valuation ones.

  37. It’s better to say that you and the group mutually decided you wouldn’t be coming back since you were more interested in other areas.

    1. Dodd Blair

      what if you interned junior summer in S&T at a bank that wasn’t a BB or even well known, but didn’t get a return offer. How would they even check this for FT? Firm is way too small for anyone to have mutual friends.

      1. If it’s so small that they can’t check, sure, you can take your chances and say what you want.

  38. You can say something like that, but maybe don’t say explicitly that you “told” everyone you didn’t want to work in liability management. Just say it was clear on both sides that you didn’t want to continue there and you were more interested in IBD instead.

  39. Jonathan W.

    Hi – I’m currently interning at BB within commercial banking. However I applied for mobility within the firm to interview for IB and Im worried that that’ll cause me to not receive a full-time offer from my manager in commercial banking (even though my mid-summer review said I’m on track – prior to me applying for the mobility program), which is going to be a hard sell when I’m talking to other banks about their IB program and they ask me did I get the return offer. On top of that I have low gpa (above 3.1, below 3.5). However I am technically sound because I’ve taught myself how to do DCFs and LBOs and various other modeling skills. How can I spin this to get a full time offer at another bank?

    1. I wouldn’t worry about that because it hasn’t happened yet. If it does come up, just say that you didn’t get a return offer because you expressed interest in moving to IB, and your bank didn’t like that. However, you have solid references from senior bankers if they would like to speak with anyone you worked with.

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